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Successful businessman on the top of a mountain holding pirate flag
Lucas HamonMay 12, 2021 8:01:11 PM4 min read

AARRR You Kidding Me with these Pirate Metrics?

AARRR You Kidding Me with these Pirate Metrics?

Remember when impressions, likes, and shares were enough?

Me either... not even when they were considered to be the ideal of marketing success... the pinnacles of measured branding. 

do, however, remember when inbound leads were the gold standard, and I had no problem engaging in services for lead generation with the assumption that sales would know what to do next (they never did despite saying they would).  So, please don't take offense.

Today, growth is measured in a much more comprehensive manner, and agencies such as Orange Pegs are expected to have a much larger sphere of influence than just a single aspect of the sales continuum.... especially when dealing with businesses in high growth mode or trying to get there.

Enter the AARRR Pirate Metrics Framework - digital marketing KPIS and the most important accountability standard any investment in growth can be held to.

Why do we call these marketing KPIs  it "Pirate Metrics?" Because if you sound out the acronym, you sound like a pirate:

  1. Acquisition
  2. Activation
  3. Revenue
  4. Retention
  5. Referral

A Breakdown of Pirate Metrics (AARRR)

1 - Aarrr Acquisition

One of the simplest acquisition metrics is lead generation. Basically, visitors that come to your website or app give you their information.

Maybe you buy this information off of a list or vendor, or, but ideally, this information is given to you willingly and directly from the human being tied to it.

Your customer acquisition rate is tied to "Acquisition in the AARRR framework, but it actually relies on Activation and Revenue as well. 

Inbound lead generation, a method of acquisition, which involvesattracting visitors to your website through SEO, blogging, social media, and paid media--and converting them into leads through gated content offers, is an important aspect to growth. However, this is the very beginning of the buyer's journey, not the end, and shouldn't be treated as if it were.

It's also not just the job of marketing to generate noise and leads. Don't forget about sales! They too can drive visitors to the website by way of calling, social media, and networking.

Every single aspect of generating those leads would go into the Acquisition bucket, from setting up ads to sending emails to social media to blogging, to the offer itself and the form it sits behind or landing page or thank you page. All of it.

Common Acquisition metrics and KPIs:

  • Leads
  • Marketing Qualified Leads
  • Sales Qualified Leads
  • Ranked keywords
  • Impressions
  • Traffic
  • Click and bounce rates
  • Visitor-to-contact ratio
  • Landing page conversion rates

2 - aArrr Activation

Your leads need to raise their hand at some point and tell you that they want to engage with your business in the sales cycle. This can happen by way of signing up for a trial on your software or going through the discovery process with your sales team.

You can activate your leads with sales calls or emails, marketing emails, social media, chat bots, and more. 

Common Activation metrics and KPIs:

  • Discovery calls set (Deals created)
  • Trial sign-ups
  • B2B2C program sign-ups
  • Email open/reply/click rates
  • Sales call connects


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3 - aaRrr Revenue

Revenue metrics are also dependent on the business type. A B2B, for example, will likely require an executed SOW and paid invoice to consider revenue success. Whereas a SaaS may not generate revenue until individual users are activated after the contract is signed. Onboarding mobile app users could be the Revenue cycle even after they've been charged.

Common Revenue metrics and KPIs:

  • First payment received
  • Signed SOW (sometimes considered a KPI)
  • Customer lifetime value (LTV)
  • Payment information entered
  • Trial expired without cancellation
  • Customer acquisition rate


5 - aarRr Retention

If your contracts are monthly vs annual, you may have different metrics to measure here as well, but recurring revenue is the key.

Common Retention and User Behavior metrics and KPIs:

  • Renewal rate
  • Early termination rate
  • Recurring revenue
  • Upsell revenue
  • User-behavior metrics (are they logging in or engaging with your program?)
  • Customer service engagements & resolutions
  • Survey results


6 - aarrR Referral

This is an easy one... are they sending you business, and are you able to close it? Just like everything above, this can come from both sales and marketing. Of course, you can also generate referrals through production and the app itself.

Common Referral metrics and KPIs:

  • Referral leads closed
  • Referral revenue generated
  • Referral leads received


Where are your trouble spots?

Whether you're trying to fill the top of the funnel with more leads, generate better outcomes in the sales cycle, retain your clients long-term, or anything in between, the AARRR framework can help! And, we show you how to set and leverage your Pirate Metric status in our Experimental Marketing Strategy course and certification.

Click HERE to learn more:


Lucas Hamon

Over 10 years of B2B sales experience in staffing, software, consulting, & tax advisory. Today, as CEO, Lucas obsesses over inbound, helping businesses grow! Husband. Father. Beachgoer. Wearer of plunging v-necks.